Thousands of people are expected to descend on Cornwall to witness the first orbital rocket launch from UK soil, heralding the beginning of a “new era” for the British space industry.
As long as there are no last-minute technical issues and the Cornish weather does not ruin the party, the historic Start Me Up mission will launch nine satellites into orbit from Spaceport Cornwall on Monday night.
Melissa Thorpe, the head of Spaceport Cornwall, which is based in a corner of Newquay airport, said she thought she would feel nervous but was “confident and really focused”.
Tickets for the Cornish launch were snapped up in less than two hours, with a silent disco planned to keep the blood pumping on what could be a cold night.
The mission is centered on a repurposed Boeing 747 named Cosmic Girl, which is outfitted with Virgin Orbit’s LauncherOne rocket carrying the nine satellites. The 747 will take off from Spaceport Cornwall before releasing the rocket over the Atlantic Ocean to the south of Ireland at 35,000 feet.